Apr 26 2017

Pet Food Safety: Real dangers and overblown fears.

Pets don’t get sick from properly inspected and manufactured foods. And by inspected, I mean a very comprehensive quality control program. Considering everything else pets manage to choke down while you aren’t looking, you would think their regular chow isn’t anything to worry about. The best animal products can contain harmful bacteria and there are uncountable molds on grains and finished products that can produce toxins that may go undetected.

On top of these more common problems there can be intentional neglect (Chinese melamine flap) and opinions about individual ingredients (eg., preservatives, GMO’s, grain, etc.). Fear of the unknown ingredients and known human susceptibilities add to the confusion.

Here’s some facts to guide how to manage pets’ diets.


  • Always inspect the bags for tears and grease out spots and cans for bulging lids (bacterial growth).
  • Take a good look and sniff when opening a product. Do not feed, musty, rotten, or rancid smelling food or food that looks powdery- white, green, grey, blue or black = mold.
  • Be aware that foreign material can get into products eg., a screw from factory, bugs after bag is opened, etc.


  • Buy appropriate life stage, species and medical condition indicated diets. Cats can’t eat dog food long term.
  • Labels that say “No” or “Free” can pretty much be ignored. Unlike human claims of no gluten and no peanuts, which are important, pet food claims of no GMO’s, no gluten, hormones, and antibiotics are irrelevant. No added hormones or antibiotic residues are allowed in any foods. Gluten and GMO inclusion in pet diets will not cause health problems.


  • Watch for pet food recalls. Most are recalled based on lab tests with no pets becoming ill.
  • Mishandled pet food- just like human food, will go bad if left out long enough- throw it out.
  • If it leaks or reeks, throw it out and if observed in a store, tell the manager.


  • Bad food can sicken or kill a pet- toss it!
  • Trust large pet food manufacturers to have the best quality control. Hill’s has 200 quality control check points and is inspected to human manufacturing standards which are more stringent. Other big producers are Purina, Iams, Royal Canin and Waltham.

– William I. Wiatt D.V.M.

pethospo | Pet Food, Pet Wellness

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